Osteoporosis is not just a woman’s disease.

Men can get it too!

Men experience about half as many osteoporotic fractures as women. But when a man breaks his hip because of osteoporosis, he is more likely than a woman to be permanently disabled and twice as likely to die within a year.

Unfortunately, men are far less likely than women to get their bones checked. This is true even if they have a previously broken bone — any bone — from something as “nontraumatic” as tripping and falling from a standing height, a so-called fragility fracture.

“We need to pay a lot more attention to osteoporosis in men,” said  Dr. Robert A. Adler, an endocrinologist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Va., and Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine “It’s erroneous to think it’s a lady’s disease. And because many men and their doctors think that, men are less likely than women to be evaluated and treated after a low-trauma fracture.”

Men remain inadequately tested and treated after low-trauma fractures “even though their risk of a subsequent fracture is markedly increased,” said Dr. Sundeep Khosla, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, echoing Dr. Adler’s concerns. In fact, Dr. Khosla said, there is now evidence that even following a “high-trauma fracture,” as might happen in a car accident, they should have the strength of their bones checked.

“Aging men lose bone mineral density at a rate of approximately 1 percent per year, and one in five men over the age of 50 years will suffer an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime,” Dr. Khosla wrote in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. “Almost 30 percent of all hip fractures occur in men.”

His advice: “Every man over 70 should have a bone density test, and if they have other risk factors, depending on which ones, they should be tested soon after 50.”

While there has been some progress in the recognition of osteoporosis in men—particularly the fact that almost one-third of hip fractures occur in men and that men are twice as likely to die within a year after hip fracture—much more work needs to be done. The realization of the risk of fracture and fatality has led to some increases in evaluation and treatment in men, but it is clear that many men have no attention paid to their fracture risk, despite obvious risk factors.  The serious consequences of fracture in high risk men need to be appreciated by both patients and clinicians.

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